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mercoledì 25 febbraio 2009

Casa Loma Orch. - Under A Blanket Of Blue, 1933


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Their name often linked with leader Glen Gray, the Casa Loma Orchestra was the first ''swing'' band. As early as 1929 they began playing the same mixture of hot jazz and sweet ballads that Benny Goodman would later popularize and that would dominate the music industry in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Originally named the Orange Blossoms, the group first formed in Detroit during the mid-1920s as an offshoot of Jean Goldkette's orchestra. Gray, then known as Spike Knoblaugh, joined the group in the winter of 1925-26 as a sax player. Henry Biagini was leader. Playing in and around the Detroit area the Orange Blossoms were booked into a brand new Toronto club called the Casa Loma in 1927. Built in preparation for a visit by the Prince of Wales the club never opened, and in 1929 the Orange Blossoms, shedding Goldkette's mantel and striking out on their own, decided to rename themselves the Casa Loma Orchestra in memorial.
The bandmembers formed a cooperative, dismissing Biagini and electing Gray as president and leader. They moved to New York and were soon booked into the Roseland Ballroom, where a representative from Okeh Records discovered them and offered a deal. Alternating between big band jazz and sentimental ballads the group sounded better on the latter than it did on the former. Nevertheless, the Casa Loma Orchestra had a unique sound and quickly began to attract the attention of the hipper college crowd.
After cutting six sides for Okeh the group signed with Brunswick. They were so popular however that Victor also signed them, and the group ended up recording on both labels simultaneously. Eventually they began to record exclusively for Brunswick and remained there until signing with Decca in 1943. Kenny Sargent, who also played sax, was vocalist. On their first sides for Okeh and Brunswick, they were billed as simply the ''Casa Loma Orchestra.'' Victor however billed them as the ''Glen Gray Orchestra.'' After leaving Victor they began using the combined moniker ''Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra.''

Recording: Glen Gray & His Casa Loma Orch. voc. Kenny Sargent - Under A Blanket Of Blue (Jerry Levinson/Marty Symes, Al Neiburg), Brunswick 1933

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